Extending the Activation Grace Period in WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials

Extending the Activation Grace Period in WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials

Introduction

Since most of us work normal jobs we may not always have the time necessary to perfect our Windows Home Server or our Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Server the way we want to before being forced to activate or copy of the product. However, there is a way of extending that mandatory time limit of activating Windows Home Server 2011 or even Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.

What I am going to show you is nothing new and has been around since the days of when Windows Vista was released into Beta which has continued on all the way into Microsoft’s most current released line of Operating Systems like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. That is of course resetting the mandatory activation grace period of Microsoft’s Operating Systems back to the beginning of its initial post activation period.

In Microsoft’s client line of Operating Systems (Windows Vista and Windows 7) the activation grace period allowed is 30 days, on their Server Operating Systems (Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2) it’s 60 days, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials is 60 Days, and on Windows Home Server 2011 it is 30 days.

But wait! Shouldn’t it be 60 days for Windows Home Server 2011 if it is based on the Windows Server 2008 R2 code? The answer in this case is No, Microsoft in their infinite Wisdom decided to only allow 30 days for Windows Home Server 2011 yet allow Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials 60 days before you are forced to activate their product. However, Microsoft has allowed as in their other Operating Systems since Vista to extend this grace period (120 days for WHS 2011 and 240 days for SBS 2011 Essentials) by allowing us to reset or in this case “re-arm” the grace period 3 times.

There are two ways this can be accomplished, Option one is manually which is accomplished from the command Prompt. Option two is the automated way which can be done with the use of an xml script in conjunction with Task Manager.

Disclaimer

The How to information is intended as a guide or helping resource to those who are Extending the Activation Grace Period in WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials . I assume no responsibility for any consequences of any adverse effects caused by re-arming the activation period.

Here are the Following Prerequisites…

– Keyboard, Mouse, and Monitor or Remote Desktop

Option I: Manually re-arming the activation grace period.

1. Click Start, and then click Command Prompt.

Extend1

2. To reset the evaluation period, type slmgr.vbs /rearm, and then press ENTER.

Extend2

3. Restart the computer.

Extend3

This will need to be done again just prior to the end of the of the grace period (I would repeat the above steps anywhere between the 27th and 29th day for WHS 2011 and the 57th and 59th day for SBS 2011 Essentials) or you will be forced just to activate your server.

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John has been in the IT profession for over 20 years along with being certified in both Comptia Security + (2008 edition) and a MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) on Both Windows XP & Server 2003 Administration, He currently works as an Windows System Administrator for Northrop Grumman in the Greater Los Angeles Area and manages 3 Windows Active Directory Private Networks (Two 2008 R2 and One 2012 R2) along With 2 VMware EXSI 5.5 Servers in the US. He has been an avid fan and follower of Windows Home Server (Now the Essentials Role of Windows Server) and Visualization Since 2009. He is currently trying to exploit the full potential of Microsoft's Windows Server Operating System to the Home & Small to Medium Business Community along with the power of Visualization. When not being a Nerd and a Geek he likes to watch Movies, Read Comic Books, and most importantly spend time with his family.
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  • ITBeast

    Since doing this article a gentleman from over a t How To Geek wrote a similar article on how to extend the evaluation of Windows Server 2008 R2. The approach is essentialy same but much more streamlined and automated. It can very easily be tailored for Windows Home Server 2011 or Small Business Server evalutions as. Please check out this link to find out more.

    http://www.howtogeek.com/109141/how-to-seamlessly-extend-the-windows-server-trial-to-240-days/

  • Mark

    Thanks for posting this. That gives me another 3 months to fail to decide whether to virtualise or not…

    • ITBeast

      No Problem Mark, Glad I could help